- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 10, 2014

DETROIT (AP) - A Detroit man charged in the abduction and slaying of his girlfriend’s 5-year-old niece has been convicted following a second trial.

The Wayne County prosecutor’s office says jurors on Wednesday found 23-year-old Darnell Cheatham guilty of second-degree murder, arson, torture and other crimes in the July 2011 death of Mariah Smith. He faces up to life in prison when sentenced Jan. 6.

Authorities have said Mariah was taken from her east side home, raped and strangled. Her body was set afire on a mattress in a vacant house about a mile from her home.

A judge declared a mistrial in late July 2014 after a jury deadlocked during deliberations.

Defense lawyer Kareem Johnson tells The Associated Press that he was “really disgusted” by the jury’s verdict. He says witnesses that testified at the first trial offered different recollections during the second trial, but those discrepancies weren’t considered.

Johnson says an appeal is planned.


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